Looking for help with encaustic, I have received a few emails about where to find it on my website. It's on another page, this is my blog, you can read all sorts of articles here, but! if you need to know proper temps., how to make the medium, or just wondering about an assortments of tools and what-not >> Click on the link, "Encaustic Resources," at the right, or copy and paste this into your address bar http://parksartworkstoolstechnique.blogspot.com/
Recently some items came back to me after a long absence, they were living in a far away land, one known as Indiana. But now I have them, and most particular to why I am writing, other than the fact that I have not written in a long while, amongst these items were a few books that motivated me, at least when I first got them, to tap further into my ideas, my art.
The environment, as a whole, has always been at the core of my work, but I have focused a lot on bird and plant life, color, and visual textures. Not that I want to stop with that focus, but I feel a need to explore more of the whole. Also since I treat medium and subject connectively, some subjects lean more to a specific medium than the other, and that sometimes leaves one medium feeling neglected.
I have been trying to get back into the studio, so to speak, the only studio I ever had was through the university where I received my graduate degree, but anyway that is another story... I have been trying to get back to work with more land based, the, "whole," type pieces, more documentation of encaustic as a medium, and well, just to make art in general. Which brings me back to the books. I thought I would share a few images with you that I found to pull at my motivation a little bit. One book is on Indiana geology from 1881, I was attracted to the plates, which include around sixty of them. I have always admired the graphic and design quality, especially with this subject matter.
And from a two volume, 3008 page picture dictionary, where there are endless images to glean ideas from, including odd things I would never relate to a word. And lastly, a book on insects.
I thought I could update with a photo of the piece I was working on, that I posted last time. I was commissioned to paint some Carolina Chickadees from a friend and fellow artist, she gave it as a wedding gift for a couple back in the Carolinas- I hope it found a good home!
I was thinking, as long as I am sitting here, sneezing uncontrollably from some unknown thing, and pausing from painting... I thought I might try to type something up. Not much to say though, or can say, the sneezing... I am working on this Carolina chickadee WC, similar to my other works of birds (view more at http://parksartworksportfolio.blogspot.com/p/book.html), I hope to have it done soon, if the sneezing every stops.
Not currently, but during the past three years, in some way, shape, or form, I had been teaching visual arts to children and teens with autism. During that time I have met and know a lot of dedicated and talented people. One of these individuals is working deligently to raise money for a respite program dedicated to children with autism. I would like to take a moment and help spread the word to anyone who can help them reach their goal. Watch a video below and go to http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/199901 to make a donation, any amount will help and is greatly appreciated!
From PlayTime Respite
My name is Nicholas Bonney and I work with kids on the Autism Spectrum. I currently work for an Art/Respite Program in the Albuquerque Metro Area and I absolutely love what I do. I have a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and I am pursuing a masters in Music Therapy.
Everyone knows or is acquainted with someone on the autism spectrum and whether or not it is on the rise or just becoming more recognized in society, can be debated. However, that is not the point here.
The point is to provide these children with a safe space, which meets their sensory needs and gives their parents or care takers a break from a life which can be highly demanding.
I own a building separate from my house which is about 600 sq ft. Instead of using the building for personal space I have decided to give back to my community and have found that they need respite care for children with Autism ages 4-6 years old. I have exhausted many fundraising efforts in my community and have raised a enough money to demolish the inside of the building, put on a new roof and pour a new floor. People have donated supplies and I have also raised money for some art supplies, shelving units and some furniture for when we open.
However, this building needs a bathroom, a kitchen, drywall, electricity and plumbing for starters. I believe that the community at large is interested in seeing children with ASD thrive in society. This can happen if they are given a place where they can truly express themselves . This respite program will provide, Art, Gardening, Music, Free Play, Floor Time Activities, and a natural playscape outside of the building. We also plan to equip it with a full kitchen to prepare food, make messes and conduct science experiments.
THANK YOU for your help as we make a difference in the lives of children with ASD and provide free time to their parents and guardians.
I recently went up to Santa Fe from ABQ with the chance to see some pronghorn. Being from Indiana originally, and seeing them for the first time, and wild, I was really excited to say the least. It also got me to thinking, I need to start posting again, even if my time is limited with trying to find work. Anyway, I thought this was a good way to get back at it, and maybe touch on something that has been bugging me with photography.
What's bugging me? I will tell you. I can't afford thirty grand for a camera setup even though I know I have the skill to make good use of..., no, great use, great use of such equipment. Almost anyone can go buy that equipment if they have the money, press a button, and whahlah, get a great image. But there is still artistry in photography, even if it has become kinda automatic, that you can't press a button for. I own a lot of cameras, most good old fashion 35mm manual cameras, like the Nikon F2, or Olympus OM1, but film is expensive, thus digital comes in. I don't own a DSLR, and it was only recent that I had a point and shoot. But finally I stepped up and bought this half point and shoot, half DSLR, and I have been pretty happy with the results. Not to make this a review about cameras, my point being is, you do not need a DSLR to get great pictures, they are over-rated in some respect. You actually might get some good experience by having to work at getting a picture.
Back to the pronghorn, I could have used a telephoto lens if I had one, only, all I had was the built in optical zoom. All that didn't matter though, my pictures aren't as great as if I would have had professional setup, but what I got was much better. Over a hundred yards away and with a tripod I worked twice as hard to get what I got than anyone would have with a big fancy camera. You will be much more satisfied with your work when you have to work for it.
Pronghorn are pretty awesome, they were well worth the effort.
Hardboard, commonly referred to as masonite, more and more is being used as a substrate for painting, drawing, and other media. Primed with clay, paper, gesso, etcetera - ready for oil, acrylic, egg tempera, watercolor, encaustic, ink, collage, and much more.
Unlike many masonite products found at your local hardware store, artist hardboard, is often made to be more stable, less toxic, and less harmful to you, as-well-as the environment. Lumber products are often treated with chemicals for many purposes; however, certain types of chemicals are better off avoided in art making if not other constructive ventures. Hardboard, designed for artistic uses have advantages over other alternatives; so as long as certain steps are taken in it's use, as well as precautions in the choice of what brand or type.
Formaldehyde, that evil chemical that always crops up in art material safety has made it's way on to the manufacturer's label to help ease the worried minded purchaser. However, most art material manufacturers are going to avoid this chemical as much as possible; mainly because they know the artist is aware of it. It also never hurts to check. In the case of Jack Richeson's Premium Artist's Hardboard, they went to the trouble to ease those worries by printing it on the label.
Archival products are important to many artists, galleries, museums, and collectors alike- therefore you will find labels on materials informing you of the products being such.
ASTM label, or rather the label concerning art materials- ASTM D4236. ASTM is the international organization for testing materials and the ASTM D4236 label is the standard practice for labeling art materials. Seeing labels like these on a product simply means they are conforming to ASTM standards to provide a product that is safe. You will find it on products from finger paint to, well... the topic at hand. However, a note of caution, the studies and information is usually designed around the typical use for a product. In the case of encaustic, material is heated, and heating things up to such high temperatures have their own risks not always included in such studies because they expect you to use it for what it was designed or intended to be used for.
Hardboard at the hardware store also comes with a collection of labeling. Manufacturers do this for all sorts of reasons- be it their own personal business reasons or required by law. You can find out more from those specific manufacturers or the place you happen to be visiting.
Hardboard benefits over dimensional lumber, plywood, canvas, or whatnot can be many- but nothing is perfect- with each comes their own benefits. Hardboard is lighter than plywood, canvas can flex, dimensional lumber is aesthetically pleasing- it may just simply come down to preference. Aside from the cost on occasion, hardboard beats many on convenience- particularly those primed for your specific need.
Crayons, known for having produced many stick figures, showing alternatives to simple batik processes, used to push up ones nose, rudimentary in wax monoprinting, and along with who knows how many other enjoyable activities- 'cept maybe not the nose thing.
The term crayon is inclusive, synonymous with certain memories and products. Not always on the top list for artist materials, or at least professional artist ones. Sometimes even condemned to be, "childish," as if, "childish," is a bad thing. Having my own reservations about them, I still feel they've earned a right, even if it were out of just plain nostalgia. It is however, for more than just nostalgia's sake.
Something that springs to mind is that I have been using them for teaching encaustic monoprinting. Rarely ever do we use expensive high-end art supplies to learn a new art form or process, at least not if it isn't necessary, and of course, not in saying to cheap'n the value of the crayon. Here is a look at how crayons are useful different ways.
First off, it is to make full use of that nostalgia value. Nothing like digging through a bucket crayons, or breathing in that familiar scent, to get the memory juices flowing. If not used for what they were meant, they can be found in advertising, sculptures, mailboxes, collections, and much more than one can think of. Where have you seen crayons outside of typical coloring? Images of the crayon are everywhere, just look at the header of this post. Nostalgia plays a big role and is important- whether we realize it or not.
Second, and keeping it short with links to previous posts written on the topic, a process making use of the everyday run-of-the-mill crayon. Combining encaustic and printmaking, wax monoprinting or monotypes, in general is a printmaking technique that creates individual unique pieces with the process applied to encaustic. The process is very simple and crayons make the perfect learning tool. Being relatively inexpensive compared to encaustic paint, but ready to use out of the box, plentiful supply of colors, and found in many stores just around the corner- it's hard to argue the case for not using them. Monoprinting with crayons can be a fun and easy first step to learning a new technique, one tied to a ancient practice. Only remember if you plan on creating gallery worthy work, or honestly any minute amount of seriousness, you may (or may not) move on to encaustic wax. I will not mention the health issues, or the ramifications of using crayons as encaustic here, rather for in depth look on encaustic, refer to the Encaustic Resources link.
Crayons can be used in a simplified batik process or in candle-making as well. Crayons argumentatively will always have a place and serve the purpose of many lessons in art making- WOW! if only only I had my own crayon making mill and label machine I could make my own, with my own choice of ingredients.
Getting the best shot for online websites, blogs, shops, etcetera... all starts with a very SIMPLE studio.
Hard to find? Not really!
What about the camera? Uhh... not now.
You will need one office style presentation easel (this article uses a clamp style), a large sheet of white, grey, or black paper for a backdrop that is approximately 3' x 6' (grey or black is recommended over white), a sheet of 22" x 30" hot press watercolor paper (hot press has a smooth surface that does not excessively create shading/shadows in the photo like a rough or cold press paper will), four magnets (preferably neodymium, they wont mark the paper like the black ones and they are much stronger for there size), and a table or the floor (whichever space you prefer- there is benefits to working on either surface).
First off, do your best not to kink, krumple, dent, or bend your papers; those sorts of things can create shadows that show up in the photo.
As seen here in this post's pics, you get a good idea how to set-up. Rather simple, and most supplies outside of the camera equipment, were found at a thrift store, or were inexpensive supplies from the hardware and artist supply shop.
The watercolor paper purchased from an art supply shop will cost around three dollars for a twenty-two by thirty inch sheet- and you can buy the generic brand- only be sure it is hot (smooth) press. If you are shooting larger objects (say around ten to fifteen cubic inches) get a larger sheet of paper. This is because it's difficult to shoot without showing the edges of the paper (of course this is only if you care).
Magnets from the hardware store can sometimes be pricy (ehh, about $6), have endless uses. But most importantly, four of them hold up the WC paper on the backdrop paper. It is important not to permanently attach the WC paper to the backdrop paper. Depending on the item being photographed, either a vertical or horizontal piece, you will shift the WC paper up or down- shooting from the side or more above the object. As for the backdrop, it helps to glue a stiff strip of board to the top edge to help the easel grasp it. This may vary on what style of easel that you have. You can also fold it over several times, just be sure to buy a sheet of paper about a foot longer to compensate for the loss.
As for the easel, picked this one up from a thrift store for about three bucks, oddly and quite by surprise, if you buy it new from the office supply store, the price is quite hefty. This setup will get you going, but remember photo editing software can do a lot, and even the best studio, with the best setup, will still use it. The pictures below are some crayons I photographed with this studio setup, they are for a encaustic monoprint post, Crayons in the Realm of Encaustic- photo on the right, before photoshop (PSElements) and the photo-shopped (PNG) version on the left.
Some simple tips (I won't give lengthy descriptions), play with these in photoshop: 'levels,' 'colorcurves,' 'saturation,' 'brightness/contrast,' and as seen in this posts pics, 'PNG,' files allow for backgrounds to be cropped out with the, 'magic wand tool,' (play and tweak the tolerance for best results- tolerance controls how many pixels are selected) and the result is a transparent background to match website background, or in my opinion, simply to get rid of that annoying blocky feel.